What Grandparent Rights Are Available Under Pennsylvania Law?

Grandparent Rights Do Give Some Options
Grandparents of children whose parents are going through divorce proceedings may be stuck in a tough situation. They want to help the children, but they are not technically a parent.  Some states, sadly, give no rights whatsoever to grandparents.  Fortunately, this is not the case in Pennsylvania.  Grandparent rights in Pennsylvania do give some options to help the minor children, although these rights are not exactly the same as those given to biological parents.  

Grandparent Rights Do Give Some Options

In Pennsylvania, there are a few ways a grandparent can approach the custody issue.  The first way—and the best way to ensure that the grandparent does get custody—is to petition the court for custody in the position of in loco parentis. A grandparent who is acting as in loco parentis is essentially already acting as the child’s parent pursuant to an already-established legal status.  This could be the result of an earlier court order, or could arise in some other manner.  Regardless of how a grandparent achieves this status, grandparents who are acting in loco parentis are fairly likely to obtain some custody arrangement they will find to be suitable. Even if a grandparent has not yet established a legal status as the child’s guardian, grandparents may still ask for custody under one of a few other arrangements.  One such arrangement would be under the following situation:
  • A grandparent who already has a relationship with a child that began with a parent’s consent or pursuant to a court order; and
  • The grandparent wants to be responsible for the child; and
  • Any one of the following statements is true:
    • The child depends on the grandparent for support; or
    • The child is considered to be at risk of harm due to an issue with the parent(s); or
    • The child has already lived with the grandparent for 12 months
Finally, even if the grandparent cannot get custody under the above mentioned scenarios, it could still be possible. However, it does require either a parent to have died or the child to have lived with the grandparent seeking custody for no less than 12 months. This can lead to the grandparent receiving a limited form of custody. Keep in mind that custody for a grandparent is never a simple topic. If you have questions on the matter please do not hesitate to contact us.  We will be glad to talk with you about what Grandparent rights you may have and analyze your situation.